Moving to the Customs Declaration Service (CDS)

The Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system will close in two phases: After 30 September 2022, the ability to make import declarations will end. After 31 March 2023, the ability to make export declarations will end.

After this all goods imported into or exported from the UK will be declared using  the Customs Declaration Service.

CHIEF will be replaced by Customs Declaration Service which is a modern IT platform with the flexibility to grow in line with the government’s plans to have the world’s most efficient customs system by 2025.

Unipac Shipping will continue to arrange your customs clearance using the new system.

However, to receive VAT reports, registration on the new system CDS is required. VAT C79s will no longer be mailed, and PVA monthly statements will only be available through CDS.  HMRC requires that importers keep these reports in company records. Please register on CDS so you have these reports available.

If you have your own Duty Deferment account and in order to be able to access it, it will be necessary to register for CDS too. A new direct debit is required to allow HMRC to take Duty and VAT from your bank account, as the HMRC bank account for CDS is not the same as the CHIEF bank account.

You will be able to check the balance and history of your deferment account online (for shipments declared using CDS), and to make interim payments. This is a significant improvement.

To prepare to use the Customs Declaration Service, please follow these eight steps:

1. Register for a Government Gateway account.
You should use this account to access the Customs Declaration Service.
You can register for a Government Gateway account on

2. Apply for an Economic Operator Registration and Identification number.
In order to register for EORI go to . You should receive your EORI number within a week, but it can take longer during busy periods.

3. Register for the Customs Declaration Service.
You can register on It can take up to five working days. You will need:

  • your Government Gateway user ID
  • password for yourself and your business
  • your GB EORI number
  • your 10-digit Unique Tax Reference (UTR) number – you can find this on any HMRC payment reminders, or in your personal tax account
  • the address for your business
  • your National Insurance number (if you’re an individual or sole trader)
  • the date you started your business

4. Authorise your software provider to make declarations on your behalf.
This will link your software to your Government Gateway account. Your software provider will tell you how to do this.

5. Check the guidance.
The Customs Declaration Service is built on the Union Customs Code, which is fundamentally different from the Community Customs Code that CHIEF is based on. Please read the Customs Declaration Service guidance to understand how this impacts on you and the declarations you intend to make.

6. Choose which payment method to use.
You can choose the payment method which is best for your declaration. The main payment methods are:
• duty deferment account – the Customs Declaration Service uses a separate HMRC bank account to CHIEF, so you’ll need to set up a new direct debit
• postponed VAT accounting – if you’re making declarations for yourself and your business is registered for VAT in the UK
• cash account – these replace the Flexible Accounting System (FAS), and you’ll be set up with one once you’ve registered for the Customs Declaration Service
• immediate payment by Bacs, CHAPS, online or by telephone banking – you can pay by debit, corporate credit card or cheque
• individual guarantee – you can use these to cover customs duties for one-off or high value imports
• general guarantee account – this allows you to provide multiple guarantees from the same account, and continue importing goods into the UK and pay a disputed amount later once agreed

7. Get access to the Trader Dress Rehearsal service.
The Trader Dress Rehearsal service lets you practice submitting declarations and identify any errors. This may help you feel more confident when you start to use the Customs Declaration Service.

8. Submit live declarations.
When you’re ready to make a declaration in the Customs Declaration Service, contact your software provider. They’ll make the request for access to the live service for you. You should use the secure file upload service when you submit your supporting documents like licenses or certificates of origin.


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